Tuesday, July 31, 2012

3 Steps for Respecting Boundaries While Fulfilling Needs Within a Marriage

Welcome to the Fabulous Hybrid Blog Carnival. Our topic this summer is BOUNDARIES! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Blog Carnival hosted by The Fabulous Mama Chronicles and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on boundaries in all of its many forms. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

For those of you who have met me in person, you know I'm really high energy. I'm extroverted, pretty loud and I just tend to "bounce" from person to person in a social situation. You also know I am high tactile and I have to touch everyone. Constantly. And touch everything. My love language is (surprise, surprise), touch! I talk constantly. I love people, get-togethers and good friends.

For those of you who have met my husband, you are probably laughing at the above description. Or scratching your head going "Oh my word, how do those two deal with each other?"

I have a husband who really isn't super fond of physical touch. He will hug you, or shake hands, but then he backs off. He would prefer to not be touched a lot of the time, especially by people he doesn't know well. He's introverted, he's more of a "philosopher" (he likes to ponder, wonder and do so silently and alone),

See, aren't we a match made in Heaven?

Early on in marriage -- me wishing for social interaction, hubby happy as can be playing Call of Duty.

Part of marriage is learning how to respect boundaries and fulfill your partner's needs, often at the *same* time. This can take quite a bit of work. We live in a society that's pretty "me-centered", and that goes for relationships too. Just look at any blog posts that talks about ways to pamper/honor/support your significant other. It doesn't matter which spouse is focused on, there will ALWAYS be the comments of "Well, what about me? What about what they should do for me?" I'm not convinced that is how marriage should work. For us, marriage works because we both selfless look for ways to serve each other. 

Below I have listed three things that have helped my husband and myself learn how to respect each other's boundaries while still fulfilling the needs of the other one. At 27 and 28 (no, I'm not saying who's older), we still have a lot to learn. But these things have helped us tremendously over the past four years.


1. Learn your spouse's personality.
Whether you are learning if they are introverted or extroverted, or you get a detailed description of their personality type (think Myers-Briggs or Five-Factor Model type test), it can be really helpful to know your spouse this way. What makes them tick? What do they thrive at, what is their weakness? 

A huge step for myself was realizing that as an introvert, my husband needs time to himself. On the flip side, it helped my husband a lot to realize that it was really disappointing and awful for me to leave a social gathering after an hour or two.

2. After learning about your personalities, learn how to work with them. 
When we first got married, my husband would come home from work, change clothes and disappear into the office. Sometimes he'd kiss me or hug me, but there was hardly any social interaction between us. I felt extremely rejected everyday. So, I started following him around. I'd follow him into the study, the bedroom (but totally NOT the bathroom) and talk his ear off. As a result, he'd be in a bad mood for the rest of the evening and I'd be confused as to why he wasn't loving on me, or cuddling me so I'd be in a bad mood. It took me nearly two years to figure out he was introverted and needed to recharge and that was what he did when he came home. And it took him about two years to figure out that I need to be greeted by touch and kisses when he came home.

So, we developed a sort of "routine". He comes home, throws his arms around me, kisses me, tells me he loves me and has missed me, he hugs and kisses our son, he talks to us for a few minutes and then he disappears for about an hour or so. And I leave him alone. He emerges around the time dinner is ready and he's happy and refreshed. Our whole evening runs so much smoother. Just from that one simple change. He realized that I needed to be greeted, loved on and talked to, and I realized he needed time to recharge himself. Both of our needs are met, our personalities are comforted and we can live in harmony without changing each other.

3. Learn when you've gone to far, and when to back off. 
Truth be told, I think this is a continuous learning lesson during marriage. We've been married almost four and a half years (I know, we're still practically newlyweds!!) and we are learning this daily. I know how to push my husband's buttons and he knows how to push mine. And neither one of us are great about stopping.

Learning this important boundary can be a marriage saver, I'm convinced of if.

I have a temper. It's not a quick temper, I'm more like a slow-boiling pot of water. It takes a lot of heat and a lot of time to get me to boil over, but when I do...it is a mess. I become pretty irrational and my defense is to automatically say the most hurtful thing that comes to mind. My husband has learned when I get like this to leave me alone. I have not developed the maturity to hold my tongue if he presses the subject, so he gives me the space I need so I do not say something I regret.

We are both slowly learning how to say "I need space", or just not push those buttons in the first place, but it's an ongoing lesson. In the meantime, learning to recognize each other's cues and body language has gone a long way in preventing a lot of fights or hurtful words being said. 


I'm by no means a marriage expert. I'm not really much of an expert in anything, except in knowing what works for my family. But I've noticed that often, sharing tips, tools, tricks for a lot of situations allows someone to take them and adapt them for their family situation. So I hope that is the case with these!

Boundaries, whether at home, in the work place, with friends, with family, with children, are IMPORTANT. We don't always realize the importance of expressing and vocalizing these boundaries till it is too late. However, for the sake of everyone involved, it's usually best to express them up front.

In a marriage, since you are committing to someone for life, your boundaries and needs may change overtime. It's important to build a solid foundation from the beginning so that the communication lines are always flowing. Express your needs and honor those needs of your spouse, it will lead to an open and happy relationship. 

Visit Hybrid Rasta Mama and the Fabulous Mama Chronicles to find out how you can participate in the next Fabulous Hybrid Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. It will be updated by 3:00pm PST on Monday, July 30th:


  1. Kym, this is such a wonderful post with really, really solid tips for respectful boundaries in a partnership. I am your husband – I don’t mind warm hugs and friendly physical contact but you will not catch me making any moves to cuddle and snuggle. Part of that is because I am in the season of being touched by my daughter 24/7 and there is little left for me to give. But the other part is that I am just not touchy feely. I think that this post is a great help to the partner who IS touchy feely, helping him or her understand their partner better. Thanks for this! Printing it out and taping it to the fridge!

  2. Great post Kym! I am a huge fan of open communication too, so many issues can be prevented by just saying how we feel and then we can go ahead and figure out how to solve the concern :-)

  3. Great advice! Even if you think you know your partner SO well from before getting married... sometimes you might not. For instance, my husband attended social functions out and about specifically to see me. So once we settled in together I was baffled at why he never wanted to go out! We're in a similar boat. I'm the social one and he's the homebody.

    With my ex, we'd attend parties and I'd flutter around and do the socializing for the both of us. He appreciated having me as a social buffer.